Filed under: Hybrid , Plants/Manufacturing , Toyota Rumors that Toyota would some day build the Prius in the U.S. have bounced around for years, with a location in Mississippi often being cited as the most likely candidate. After that plan was officially scrapped in 2008 , a new version of the same story returned in 2010 when a Toyota executive vice president said Mississippi Prius production could start up in 2016 . Given the on-again, off-again history of the story, we weren’t surprised when not much was officially said about the matter in the last two years. That changed today. Koei Saga, senior managing officer in charge of drivetrain R&D at Toyota, has informed Automotive News that Toyota is now thinking of making the Prius in the U.S. by 2015 and wants to get hybrid drivetrain components – motors, inverters, batteries (likely lithium-ion packs) – from North American suppliers. The base fourth-gen Prius will probably still use nickel-metal hydride batteries, but the batteries made in the U.S. might be li-ion. A 2015 timetable means it is likely that America would make the fourth-gen Prius model, which is due around that time.
Filed under: Car Buying , Hybrid , Japan , Plants/Manufacturing , Hatchback , Toyota When we last asked Toyota representatives about the production capacity of the 2012 Prius C , we were told the company’s Iwate, Japan plant could make up to 30,000 units each month. That sounds like a lot, but Toyota is currently sending just 20 percent – 6,000 a month – to the United States. Back in December, when the car went on sale in Japan, the company received 120,000 orders in the first five days it was on sale . As we noted last week , Toyota also sold 1,200 Prius C units in the first three days it was on sale in the States. The baby Prius may not be as popular here as it is at home, but 6,000 a month sure doesn’t seem like it’s enough. The C is made at just one plant, run by Toyota’s Kanto Auto Works Ltd. affiliate in northern Japan. A strong yen and all those Japanese orders means that the C models that do get made are mostly delivered to the home country instead of be placed on a boat to be exported. Toyota originally planned to produce just 20,000 C models a month, and is now looking at how to go over even the 30,000-unit level. By increasing efficiencies at the plant and moving production of non-Prius C models (specifically, the not-available-in-the-U.S.